Seven of the city’s most well-known artists will engage children in month-long workshops, in which they will delve deep into the world of arts

Pablo Picasso once said, “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.” One of the ways to do so is Partner a Master, organised by India Foundation for the Arts (IFA) in partnership with Mumbai’s Art1stFoundation. The artist mentor programme, seeks to encourage the artist in children, not just by focusing on their artistic skills, but also enhancing their creativity.

In the Partner a Master programme, starting from July 2014, secondary school students, between the ages of 13 and 16, will be mentored by seven well-known artists in the city: Suresh Jayaram, Ravikumar Kashi, Surekha, CF John, Biju Jose, George Mathen and Suresh Kumar G.

The students will spend a month each with every artist and be exposed to the artist’s individual approach to art. Anupama Prakash, Programme Executive, Arts Education, IFA speaks in detail about the programme. “We want children to have a real experience of working under a mentor. Each artist has a different approach to visual arts. Every Saturday, for four to five hours, the artists will encourage, guide and inspire them to create their own art work.”

The programme will initiate 15 children from private schools and 15 children will be nominated from not-for-profit organisations, who will be funded by IFA. Suresh Jayaram, visual artist and art historian, says his focus is to develop creativity and curiosity through conversation. “I will introduce them to my own space at 1 Shanti Road. I would also like them to relate to certain culturally important spaces in the city and introduce them to objects they generally don’t notice, such as leaves and twigs. I wish to make them more attentive to the smaller, fragile details of life and introduce them to different ways of relating to Nature.”

C.F. John, an award-winning artist, says: “I want to help students look at things around them. I want to take them to an open space where they will relate to their surroundings and create their own works of art.” CF John says that art in schools often revolve around technical aspects of how to draw and paint. Art, however, goes beyond that. “My attempt is to bring creativity in the students, instead of teaching them specific skills. Whichever medium the student chooses, should only be used as a medium to express themselves. For example, in visual art, there are so many different ways you can draw and that is so much dependent on the temperament of the artist or the student. It is damaging to put the student into a particular system. Art is so diverse, there are innumerable ways of perceiving things, freely and independently.”

Well-known graphic novelist and artist, George Mathen aka Appupen says, “I am hoping to get kids to do sequential storytelling, maybe without words. I’ll try to have them make a storyboard and get them to flow a story through eight panels. I’ll take them to a common space, where they can at least draw.” As to the question of the necessity of art in education, Appupen says: “I am not a fan of too much art education because I wasn’t trained in art. What matters is the thought behind the art. I want to see if they have something to express, they’ll figure out the skill part as they go along.”

At the end of the programme, an art exhibition will be held, in which the children will be invited to display the art work they will create during the mentorship programme. To register visit indiaifa.org or mail shalini@art1st.co.in.